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Apple looking to move iPhone production out of China in wake of violent worker protests: report

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Apple Inc., is accelerating its plan to move iPhone production out of China in the wake of violent worker protests over COVID regulations at the world’s largest iPhone factory, a report by the Wall Street Journal said Saturday. 

The plant, dubbed iPhone City, made headlines in recent weeks after workers revolted over COVID-related concerns with security officers decked out in hazmat suits.

Apple is reportedly looking to shift its production toward other nations in Asia like India and Vietnam and to reduce dependence on Taiwanese electronics manufactures like Foxconn which owned the facility in Zhengzhou.

But according to a report by CNN earlier in the week, Foxconn may also be looking to shift its work outside mainland China.

It is unclear exactly when Apple will be able to fully shift its dependence on the iPhone City facility that houses some 300,000 workers and at one point accounted for 85 percent of the Pro lineup of iPhones, according to the report. 

But the decision by Apple comes after years of manufacturing woes stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain issues and strained geopolitical relations between Washington and Beijing which have lent to a more complicated business plan. 

"In the past, people didn’t pay attention to concentration risks," Alan Yeung, a former U.S. executive for Foxconn, told the Wall Street Journal. "Free trade was the norm and things were very predictable. Now we’ve entered a new world."

Apple may also look to rely on a larger pool of assemblers even from within China in order to circumvent supply-chain snafus, while the company also looks to secure reliable manufactures that can handle what Apple calls new product introduction, or NPI.

According to the report, NPI is the process in which Apple translates the blueprints of its latest product into a detailed manufacturing plan – a step nations like India and Vietnam may not yet be able to accommodate. 

"Finding all the pieces to build at the scale Apple needs is not easy," Kate Whitehead, a former Apple operations manager told the publication. 

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